So you decided to spend your vacation in the Marvelous City. The next step is choosing where to stay in Rio de Janeiro. After all, Rio is a big city, and choosing the location for your staying might be crucial before making any other plans.
Of course, the most famous tourist neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro is Copacabana. But maybe that is not the ideal location for you to stay. You should consider your personality, the type of tourism you are planning on doing, and where would you like to visit while in Rio before jumping ahead to the most obvious location.
So, where should you stay in Rio de Janeiro?
Lapa is a bohemian neighborhood, with lively nightlife and cultural attractions nearby. Far from the beach scenery, it is a place where locals go to have fun. If you want to mingle with Cariocas and have a good time, this is the right place for you.
This neighborhood has plenty of options for bars and nightclubs, very popular in the evenings. Lapa is also within walking distance from the downtown area of Rio. The City Center is home to museums, old churches, famous landmarks, and historic buildings, perfect for a walking tour.
There are many hostels option in Lapa and people hanging out there are usually younger travelers looking for a fun vacation in Rio. Accommodation in Lapa is much more affordable when compared to regions like Copacabana and Ipanema.
While in Lapa, you must visit Escadaria Selarón, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the famous aqueduct. Nightlife options include traditional nightclubs such as Rio Scenarium, Lapa 40 Graus, Circo Voador, and Clube dos Democráticos.
With historical buildings, colorful houses, and village-like atmosphere, Santa Teresa is a popular choice among artistic people who like to visit galleries, art centers, and underground bars.
Located on a hill, Santa Teresa offers great views of Rio de Janeiro. At Parque das Ruínas, for example, you can relax and have a quiet day while enjoying nature and the scenery. Parque das Ruínas also promotes live music events, exhibitions, and workshops.
While in Santa Teresa, you must go on a tram ride, going up and down the hill and across Arcos da Lapa, exploring the neighborhood.
Botafogo is not a tourist neighborhood, not a beachy or cultural one either. However, it is one of the best places to stay in Rio because of its great access to public transportation and its close proximity to basically every other neighborhood in the city. To sum it all, it is very easy and cheap to commute anywhere from Botafogo.
But do not think being in the middle of everything is the only good thing about this neighborhood. Botafogo is a trendy area, with offbeat restaurants, trendy bars, and funky cafés and bakeries.
The local Botafogo Beach has an amazing view of Sugarloaf Mountain. However, the water there is unfit for swimming. You can still take your time and lay down on the sand to get a tan though.
When you think about where to stay in Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana is for sure the first place that comes to mind. Copacabana is not only the most famous neighborhood in Rio, but is also one of the most famous places in the world.
The truth is Copacabana has it all: easy access to transportation, great bars and restaurants, unlimited options for shops and grocery stores, and countless hotels. Not to mention, it is home to the world-famous Copacabana Beach.
Nevertheless, being one of the most famous neighborhoods in the world, Copacabana is also very busy, with many people bustling around every corner.
Copacabana is home to exclusive hotels, such as Copacabana Palace, Emiliano, and Fairmont Rio. However, it also hosts affordable bed and breakfasts around R$70 per night. As we have mentioned before, Copacabana has it all.
Do not forget to visit Forte de Copacabana for a nice breakfast while visiting Rio de Janeiro.
Read more on our blog: Interesting Facts About Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
Ipanema is a beachy neighborhood, an upper-middle-class area that offers good restaurants, shops, and accommodations. Ipanema Beach is 2.6 kilometers long, connected by Arpoador Beach at one end and Leblon Beach at the other.
Copacabana and Ipanema are right beside each other. Still, because Ipanema has fewer accommodation options than Copacabana, small hotels and hostels are a bit pricier. However, if you rather stay in a quieter neighborhood, with not so much traffic noise and people on the streets, Ipanema is the right choice for you.
Ipanema is also home to Caminhos Language Centre, the largest and most exciting Portuguese school in Rio de Janeiro. Therefore, if you are thinking about coming to Brazil to study Portuguese, this is definitely a great place for you to stay.
Ipanema is also within walking distance from Copacabana, Leblon, and Lagoa neighborhoods, which makes it much easier for you to explore the South region of Rio.
Read more on our blog: A little bit of Ipanema’s history.
Being more like a residential area, everyday life is more expensive in Leblon. Shops, supermarkets, and restaurants are not that abundant as in other neighborhoods. It also has fewer public transportation options. But if you are looking for peace and quiet, still relatively close to busier neighborhoods, and a higher-end location, then Leblon is ideal for you.
Leblon Beach is quieter and cleaner. Rooftop areas in Leblon will provide you amazing views of the ocean, the lagoon, and possibly Corcovado.
Dias Ferreira Street offers high dining experiences you should definitely try if you are a food enthusiast. And if you like fashion, Leblon shopping mall has numerous luxury and sophisticated stores.
In the end, Leblon is a perfect location for families with children, high-end visitants, and people who like exclusive services.
Barra da Tijuca
Barra da Tijuca is like the suburbs of Rio, far away from the downtown areas, where people live in condominiums and gated communities. It is a modern neighborhood, featuring tree-lined streets and high-rise buildings.
Despite being a modern area and home to many Brazilian celebrities, accommodation in Barra is not as expensive as you would think. Hotels in Barra usually have a laid-back resort vibe, with big pools, recreation areas, and exclusive services.
Barra has the most quieter and peaceful beaches in Rio de Janeiro. It is also probably the safest area in the entire city of Rio de Janeiro.
Just be aware that Barra da Tijuca is pretty far from the most famous attractions in Rio, like the Christ the Redeemer statue and the Sugarloaf Mountain. So, if it is your first time in Rio and you are planning on visiting famous places and landmarks, Barra is not the ideal place for you to stay.
Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro?
If you are looking for the most famous hotels in Rio de Janeiro, check our blog post. And if you are planning on having a complete experience in Brazil, Caminhos can also help you with homestay options in Rio de Janeiro.